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Homestead High School was recently ranked 6th by U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings of top Wisconsin high schools. Principal Brett Bowers said much of the credit was due to the participation in Advancement Placement classes.
The Mequon-Thiensville School Board approved borrowing $18.2 million Monday to fund referendum-related school improvements at an interest rate that will save taxpayers $800,000 over the life of the loan.
Baird, the district’s bond consultant, received eight bids Monday morning for the general obligation school improvement bonds. Board members accepted the most favorable bid of a 2.9508 percent interest rate from Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. The Baird representative said the number of bids was more than typically received.
The lower interest rate means that the combined mill rate for debt will remain the same for the 2015-16 school year and then rise by 14 cents per $1,000 in equalized valuation in 2016-17 and 15 cents the following year. When the referendum was presented to the public, there was supposed to be a 17cent-per-$1,000 increase in each of those three years.
After that time, the debt related to the high school field house would be paid off. The cost of the referendum will then be 52 cents per $1,000 the next year and then either 45 cents or 46 cents every year until the bond issue is paid off is 2029-30.
The total interest cost for the bond issue is $5.58 million, which is $800,000 lower than the pre-referendum estimate.
District officials assumed a 3.5 percent interest rate when they presented the proposed referendum to the public. They knew that estimate was slightly on the conservative side, but Brian C. Brewer, managing director of Baird who spoke to the School Board Monday, said they wanted to be consistent and not be revising numbers mid-stream.
The favorable rate was not merely the result of interest rates that remain low. Moody’s gave the bond issue a Aaa credit rating. Superintendent Demond Means said the M-T schools are one of just five districts in the state to achieve that level.
(Source: Gary Achterberg at News Graphic)
Despite a state budget picture that remains in flux, administrators of the Mequon-Thiensville School District proposed a 2015-16 budget Monday that includes several new initiatives.
■ Math specialists ($125,000) – The two new positions will mean there will be a full-time math specialist in all six of the district’s buildings. There are now four specialists, who cover the three elementary schools and are shared across the two middle schools. The number of students who tested “below proficient” on a 10th-grade standardized test range from 26. 7 percent to 30.1 percent for the classes of 2014 to 2016, the superintendent said.
■ Lacrosse ($10,000) – The sport is growing in popularity. The Brookfield high schools, Arrowhead High School and University School of Milwaukee already have teams. There also are active programs in Madison and the Fox River Valley. Athletic Director Ryan Mangan said about 50 Homestead students are already playing lacrosse on club teams. Lacrosse is a spring sport for boys and girls. Games would be played on the football field.
■ Special education ($8,000) – The stipend for the special education leadership team will help to ensure better service for the students and parents served by special education programs. The team will be the “most effective conduit to our students and their parents,” Means said.
When the M-T School Board met Monday, Superintendent Demond Means told them they were projecting a $550,000 shortfall with the budget. One option for covering that would have been to dip into the school district’s $10.2 million fund balance.
The bulk of the shortfall was due to the anticipated loss of about $520,000 in categorical aid – $150 per student – from the state, which was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. While final passage of the budget has not yet occurred, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance on Tuesday voted to restore much of that funding.
The school district’s anticipated budget shortfall could have been worse. The school district’s levying authority is based on enrollment and the district is expecting an increase in enrollment in 2015-16 for just the second time in the last decade.
They are expecting an increase of 49 resident students, which is due to the inaugural class of 4-year-old kindergarten. Without those students, the district said enrollment would have declined by 81 students, administrators said.
“That 4K number has certainly helped to balance our enrollment projections,” said Gail Grieger, the school district’s director of business services.
In addition to the good enrollment news, the district is also realizing savings in other areas, including managing employee health care costs so an increase is held to 3 percent, saving $240,000 by bidding the school bus contract, an anticipated $261,000 in annual savings due to the sale of district owned land along Swan Road and $300,000 in personnel savings achieved through the elimination of two elementary positions and other savings through retirement and attrition.
The school board has typically voted on its budget for the coming school year earlier in the spring. That discussion was delayed this year because of the potentially significant impact posed by Walker’s budget. The school board is now scheduled to take final action at its June 15 meeting.
(Source: Gary Achterberg at News Graphic)
Plans to install a turf football field and construct a building with team rooms, restrooms and concessions at Homestead High School received quick, unanimous approval from Mequon’s Planning Commission April 13.
The first planned phase of improvements to outdoor athletic facilities at the high school is expected to be completed by this fall. In addition to the turf and the 48,000-square-foot building, the initial phase also includes relocating some track-and-field areas to accommodate the building, which will be built on the north end of the football field so it also can serve the existing soccer stadium.
Funds for the so-called Highlander Strong project have been raised privately. The first phase will cost approximately $1.5 million. Most visible among initial donors is a $250,000 contribution from Sommer’s Automotive designated to pay for half the cost of the building, which will be named the Sommer’s Subaru Pavilion.
“I’m very happy to see that this all came from private funding and it happened quickly,” said Rob Strzelczyk, a Common Council member who also serves on the Planning Commission.
Commissioners also briefly discussed the proposed second phase ofthe project, which will occur after the money is raised to pay for it. That phase will include a synthetic softball field, expanding seating capacity on both the home and visitors sides ofthe football stadium, improvements to tennis courts, adding some paved paths and installing an entryway feature for the outdoor facilities.
Jac Zader, the city’s assistant director of community development, said he heard some concerns from residents who believe that expanding seating capacity will increase traffic and tighten parking.
Zader said, except in rare instances, that the seating expansions are more likely to be “accommodating existing patrons” who already are coming to the games and standing.
More information on contributing to the Highlander Strong campaign is available at www.highlanderstrong.info or by contacting Jennifer Zoeller, the booster club president, at 853-5151.
Source: News Graphic by Gary Achterberg
The 111-home development received approval of the Mequon Planning Commission for the site plan. The proposed development from Pewaukee-based Neumann Companies intends to name the subdivision Highlander Estates recognizing the previous owner of this property, Mequon-Thiensville School District.
The current budget proposal from Governor Walker contains cuts in categorical aid and phasing out of the parental choice program called Chapter 220.
The cut in categorical aid is $150 per pupil, or $520,000 for Mequon-Thiensville School District. In addition, the current plan does not increase the revenue cap which determines the local support of operational expenses.
Chapter 220 has served as a way to support desegregation and limit the burden on local residents. Elimination of this program would reduce funding to MTSD by $800,000 while raising the local tax levy by $0.05/$1,000, or $15.00 for a house with an assessed value of $300,000.
A copy of the letter from Dr. Desmond Means, Superintendent of MTSD, to the school district families and community can be found here.
A special meeting of the school board was held last Monday where State Senator Alberta Darling and State Representatives Jim Ott and Dan Knodl attended. While support was given by the three legislators, there still remains concerns on the ability to find the necessary revenue to not make this cut in categorical aid. Additional information about the meeting can be found here.
Please take the opportunity to contact your local legislator and remind them about the importance of supporting the current funding level of public education that makes not only Mequon and Thiensville a great community, but Wisconsin a great state, for public education.
State Senator Alberta Darling, email
State Representative Jim Ott, email
State Representative Dan Knodl, email
At this past Monday’s Mequon-Thiensville School Board meeting incumbent Stephanie Clark and new members Jon Jacobs and Cindy Werner took their oath of office.
By being a fully engaged, collaborative member of the Common Council sharing my legal and analytical skills so the best decisions are made and the direction of the city is forward.
If the residents of District 8 told me that I was accessible and have keep them well informed.
Adams: The same way I have counted out the last 7 terms a success: I keep living here with my family and my neighbors and friends. I keep walking every morning down my quiet and clean and safe streets. I say hi to my friends walking their dogs and their children. I proudly point to our safety record. I am full of praise for our great schools. I see Eagles flying over head. I know we have a blessed life here and want to keep it that way. In three more years I will be saying much the same thing.
Adams: One of my campaign themes has been unity in community. We’re creating more cultural activities to draw people to Mequon, and encouraging more participation and involvement within the community. I have always been a strong supporter of family friendly amenities. Some examples are pretty simple, like making road speeds safer for pedestrians, strollers, walkers, joggers, and for the safety of children and our family pets. While this may seem petty to some, we need to attract young people and be aware of their needs.
The Common Council can maintain the path I have been part of for the last 21 years. We are now on top. It is fabulous here. We love Mequon and we do not need to go creating scare tactics that will have changes which will make Mequon look like Bluemound Rd. Their taxes in Brookfield are higher because of that, not lower. Their schools are not better because of that.
Allow residential development which provides reasonably priced, but high quality houses and apartments.
Allow commercial development which it not overly intense and yet serves the needs of our community.
Consider building the types of recreational facilities which are becoming common around the country for cities such as ours. This will allow for both exercise and recreation.